© Reuters
Coventry, UK bus driver Michael Shephard says he has been sacked - for eating a grape.

Michael Shephard was given the boot by bosses morning after he was spotted popping a grape into his mouth on CCTV.

The grandad from Coventry was in his cab at the time but he says he was not driving.

The 66-year-old said: "I am so angry. I thought I would be given a disciplinary for eating a grape, but not sacked.''

Mr Shephard, of Ravensdale Road, Wyken, who has been driving buses for National Express for more than five years, was suspended after the incident was captured by CCTV on the bus two weeks ago.

He said: "I don't eat or drink while I am driving but I was just sat stationary at the bus terminus in Bedworth for a few minutes and took a grape to wet my mouth a bit.

"I had a heart by-pass 12 months ago and the medication dries your mouth so I just take a sip of water or a grape sometimes when I'm sat at the station or terminus.

"I had already eaten my lunch so there was only a few grapes left in my lunchbox. And rather than getting off the bus to eat the grape I just stayed sitting in the cabin.

"I explained why I needed to have a sip of water or a grape every hour or so but they said it is still against the rules.

"They are just taking the rules to the next level."

Mr Shephard claims he was still eating the grape as he drove off from the terminus and may have scratched his nose or put his hand to his mouth to suggest he had put another grape in his mouth.

He added: "I don't remember my every movement on that day but I might have scratched my face or something while my mouth was still moving.

"There were no passengers on my bus and nobody saw me so I don't understand the problem.

"There had been an incident a few weeks earlier where a passenger had complained but National Express said they had looked into that and although it was a preventable incident, they said my sacking wasn't a part of it - it was just for eating the grape."

Mr Shephard has lodged an appeal against the sacking with the bus company which he hopes will be heard in the coming weeks.

A spokesman for National Express said: "The driver in question hasn't exhausted the disciplinary process that we have as a company and as a result we cannot make any public comment.

"However we do hold ourselves to high levels of safety and customer care standards."